Streetlight Schools: Sustainable Awareness in Education
Streetlight Schools have developed a Sustainable Education Awareness Program – which has been developed with a specific focus on young learners’ wellbeing – to teach learners new behaviours in using resources optimally from an early age, writes Solid Green’s Jesse Hamman.
We spend most of our lives indoors living, working and playing in buildings. A sound understanding of the benefits of using resources optimally will benefit not only ourselves and our immediate environment, but also the broader community and the world.
Educational programs for building-occupants and learners are not only important from a resource-efficiency point of view, but also from a social-awareness and behavioural-change point of view. In line with this approach, a Sustainable Education Awareness Program has been developed at Streetlight Schools – Jeppe Park Primary, with a specific focus on the wellbeing of young learners.
Streetlight Schools is the first school in South Africa to achieve a 4-Star Green Star SA Interiors v1 As-Built Rating, demonstrating ‘Best Practice’. It’s the first Green Star SA certified school and 250th Green Star SA certified green building! The primary school is built on the floor of an old shoe factory in inner city Johannesburg. Streetlight Schools focuses on high-quality, low-cost education, and puts the wellbeing of its students first. Education of students in all areas of development and sustainability is evident when you visit the children at the school.
As the building is naturally ventilated with many windows, the students have access to healthy indoor spaces. Clever use of locally sourced materials allows for acoustically designed spaces such as classrooms, libraries, play and social areas suited to educational purposes. School-ground greening allows for various outdoor activities, as well as the inclusion of nature as an integral part of learning and development.
The Educational Framework
The educational framework allows learners to follow staff and teachers’ examples, to transform behavioral change from an early age. Quarterly reports are prepared for learners’ report cards on various educational topics such as energy, water, waste, transportation, the emissions associated with resource depletion, materials and recycling, as well as nature and indoor plants. Each topic is linked to an activity in the learner’s immediate environment that has a positive impact in terms of sustainability and early childhood development.
Activities include making artwork made from upcycled materials, gardening on the rooftop, and daily waste education from the recycling initiatives implemented in the school. These activities allow the students to understand where resources come from, usage depletion and how to work towards using resources sustainably. This creates awareness of sustainable learning from an early age to allow for future behavioural change in society on a larger scale.
The educational framework is under development, and annual updates to the framework will be made to keep the learning modules up to date and current. Streetlight Schools is a positive example of creating awareness in sustainable education that could be implemented in any school across South Africa.